The Roebuck Surname
In researching the ancestors of Robert
the emigrant, initially the spread of the surname was considered
in a bid to locate Robert who was born about 1650 and emigrated
Subsequently the research centred on Darton, but spreading out
to try and identify when his ancestors moved Parishes and when
they moved into Darton. The geographical spread that had occurred
up to the middle of the 17th century is shown on the map. To
see the map click on the thumbnail.
Studying old collections of deeds is not a straight line exercise.
It's not so much what you are looking for, as what you find.
In the course of the search much was found that did not relate
directly to Robert's descendents, but as a surname study was
invaluable original material.
From this research it has become possible to hypothesise on the
origin of the very first Robuck to have lived in Yorkshire, or
indeed anywhere within Britain.
Castleshaw Area Photographs
In researching this section it was necessary
to visit the Castleshaw area, which must be one of the most beautiful
parts of 'old' Yorkshire. This area remains unspoiled and not
yet discovered by tourists, unlike Holmfirth. (See the Graveship of Holme pages). For this reason
it has been decided to include a selection of photographs to
help take you back to the time of the early middle ages, one
thousand years after the departure of the Romans. This has been
acieved by linking the photos to a walk around the area starting
and finishing at Delph. To see the photographs click on the thumbnail.
The first Thousand Years AD
During the first millennium surnames
had not developed and people would be referred to by given names,
nick-names, their trades or their origins or a combination of
The story of the first Roebuck starts with the Romans who occupied
most Britain during the first 400 years AD constructing roads
Most of the physical evidence is consigned to archaeology, but
some of the fortifications and roads were developed through the
subsequent centuries. Others decayed into oblivion.
Significantly for our story are the developed fortifications
of Chester, Manchester and York, and the now decayed fortifications
at Castleshaw and Meltham.
The Greater Manchester Archaeological unit of the University
of Manchester published a
review of the Roman advance into Northern Britain in 1986
and in particular into the Castleshaw area.
The route of many of the old Roman roads is not conclusive, but
the route from Manchester to York appears to pass close to the
foothill of Robuck Low and into the lost valley of Castleshaw,
completely surrounded by the hills and ridges of the Pennines
Click on the thumbnail to see a map of the Roebuck Low / Castleshaw
area as it would have been in Roman times, with the route of
On the other side of the Pennines, to the East was the Roman
fortification at Meltham and the ancient fortification of Almondbury,
set on a prominent hill. Almondbury is clearly visible from the
ridge above Castleshaw, now called Standedge. From the this vantage
point the Romans would have been able to see the beacons of York
and Castleford, both major Roman fortified settlements.
The Roman road from Chester to York went through Manchester and
Castleshaw and would have roughly followed the route of what
are now the modern roads A62 and A64. Taking in Marsden, Meltham,
Almondbury, Newton Kyme and Tadcaster.
After the Romans left the area, the roads would have remained
significantly connecting this Castleshaw area, now known as Saddleworth
with Meltham and Almondbury as the earliest known crossing point
of the Pennines.
After the Romans left the area was settled by the Saxons, of
Although the Roman road was the earliest known crossing point,
there were also numerous pack horse routes along the ridges,
many of which are still visible today.
The Norman Conquest and the
The Norman conquest started in 1066 and
by 1086 the date of the Domesday Book they had established and
documented their rule. Saddleworth is mentioned as part of the
West Riding Yorkshire within the Honour of Pontefract.
Also within the Honour of Pontefract were the towns and villages
of Robuck Low, Meltham and Almondbury.
Roebuck Low was also the name given to the very prominant hill
to the East of the village, overlooking Manchester and Chester
to the West and Castleshaw and the Pennines to the East
Although not apparently mentioned by name within the Domesday
book it is reasonable to assume that the village and/or the name
of the hill would have existed at that time. Robuck Low was in
the Parish of Saddleworth, in the Honour of Pontefract.
Just over the Pennines to the South of Meltham lies the Graveship
of Holme, but under the jurisdiction of the ancient Manor of
The formation of surnames was to begin some short time later,
probably from about 1200 AD.
Click on the thumbnail above to see the map dated circa 1850
showing Roebuck Low (the hamlet), Roebuck Low (the hill), Roebuck
Low Brook and Roebuck Lane.
It would have been about this date that
the name Roebuck was first came into use.
The earliest references of the name so far discovered are of:
Adam and Hugo Rabuckes of Pykehale within the Wappentake of Halikelde,
probably near Skipton (Lancashire Assize Rolls 1246) and (Yorkshire
Lay Subsidies 1301); Rogero Raboc of Hovingham in Rydale (Yorkshire
Lay Subsidies 1301); Adam Robot and Matild Robuc (Yorkshire Lay
Subsidies 1297); and Joanna Robuck the daughter of Simon Robuck
of Netherthong, reference also to Adam Robuck (charter dated
1323). Another very early Netherthong reference was contained
within a Grant from John the son of Henry Byssert to Thomas the
son of Elyas Robuck for his homage and service.
From these references it is clear that by the late 13th Century
the surname had become established.
The surname never developed in Halikeld or Rydale, but did develop
in Sheffield and Netherthong.
The most likely hypothesis for all these occurrences would be
that some time about 1200 AD a messenger or trades originating
from Roebuck Low settled in Meltham. At that time Netherthong
was part of Meltham. He would have been called John de Robuck
or Simon de Robuck, changing to John Robuck or Simon Robuck.
It is possible that Simon Robuck of Netherthong is that person,
but more likely it would be a preceding generation.
There is no evidence that the name developed around Roebuck Low.
After 1200 AD
At Meltham the name established itself
and spread South to Sheffield and along the route from Meltham,
within the Honour of Pontefract, to Pontefract; and by the 15th
century, as far as Felkirk. See map.
The largest concentration of the name is between Meltham and
Darton. Between Netherthong and Darton lies the Graveship of
Holme, and the Parish of Kirkburton, part of the ancient Manor
The Roebuck surname also developed quite separately between Sheffield
The map shows the spread of the name by the middle of the 17th
Due to the hit and miss nature of the
earliest records that have survived it may not be possible to
prove this link to Roebuck Low or even to Netherthong, however
modern technology might provide the answer.
This involves DNA analysis of known descendants and establishing
a pattern to match with possible or probable descendents using
the Y chromosome.
To see how this hypothesis fits in with
other accounts of the Roebuck surname, see also the Surname History
page and the page giving the account of Dr Redmonds.